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Heritage protection for Vancouver Island lighthouse

A North Vancouver Island lighthouse has become one of the rare few to receive heritage protection.

The Nootka light station was designated March 12 as B.C.’s fifth heritage lighthouse, on a recommendation from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

North Island MP John Duncan said the heritage status means the lighthouse, located on the ancestral territory of the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation, will be protected and preserved under Canada’s Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act.

“Our government is committed to protecting historic sites that we hold dear, including heritage lighthouses which are an integral part of the maritime identity of many Canadians,” Duncan said in a release. “The Nootka light station, which is still in operation, is part of an incredibly rich history that stretches over thousands of years.”

The Strathcona Regional District had the opportunity to nominate the Nootka light station, as well as those at Cape Mudge and Chatham Point, for heritage status two years ago.

The federal government at the time launched a campaign encouraging individuals and local governments to nominate lighthouses for protection via signed petitions.

Director Jim Abram, who has been an advocate for lighthouses for more than 25 years, encouraged the board to go through with the nominations.

However, as the structures are located on First Nations traditional territories, the regional district elected to first gather input from the respective First Nation communities.

Only a handful of B.C.’s 30 historic lighthouses were nominated at the time and today, only four lighthouses, other than Nootka, have received heritage designation under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. They are: Fisgard (in Victoria), East Point (Saturna), Active Pass and Estevan Point.

History

Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island at the entrance to Nootka Sound, the history of the Nootka lighthouse dates back to 1906, when the storekeeper at Friendly Cove established a light to assist mariners in the area. Three years later, a petition was sent to the federal government asking for a permanent light to mark Nootka Sound.

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